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Long Island, New York, police for the first time Tuesday released several videos showing where one of the Gilgo Beach murder victims was last seen alive in the serial killing case that’s more than a decade old.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said the department “completely revamped and rebuilt” the gilgonews.com website, where five previously unreleased security camera videos show 22-year-old Megan Waterman in the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge, New York, from June 4-6, 2010. She is seen wearing a yellow sweater and shown both arriving and leaving the hotel.
“We believed she did leave the hotel that night to meet her killer,” Harrison said.
NY POLICE COMMISSIONER SEEKS TO SOLVE GILGO BEACH SERIAL KILLINGS WITH NEW TASK FORCE
In partnership with Suffolk County Crime Stoppers, the department doubled the reward to $50,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Waterman was the youngest victim among four bodies found along the marshy Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach, in December 2010. The three others were identified as Melissa Barthelemy, 24; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25; and Amber Lynn Costello, 27. Investigators say the women, coined the “Gilgo Four,” all worked as Craigslist escorts and were last seen between July 2007 and September 2010.
The gruesome discoveries were made while police were searching for a New Jersey sex worker named Shannan Gilbert, who had been visiting a client in Oak Beach, Long Island, in May 2010, when she placed a frantic 911 call saying somebody was trying to kill her.
By spring 2011, the number of sets of human remains found in the area climbed to 10. Gilbert’s body wasn’t found until December 2011, and investigators have said it’s not clear if her death is connected to the others.
John Ray, an attorney for the Gilbert family, has been fighting for the release of several 911 calls, including a 23-minute call from Gilbert and three others he claims will be pivotal in determining who the killer is.
“This is a baby step in the right direction. The commissioner is acting in good faith. I believe he has strong intentions in solving this case, but there is a great deal more evidence that needs to be shown to the public because it’s the public who is best suited to do that,” Ray told Fox News Digital Wednesday.
“I think part of the value of his releasing information to the public is that it will generate witnesses. It may even generate action by the killers who are still out there,” he said about the newly released videos. “There are other people filmed in it and if they were there while this girl came in, signed in and left and remember something about who else might have been there or outside, that might be helpful.”
It’s unclear if the video clips will jog the memory of any in the area so long ago.
“You’re releasing things that you could have released from the very beginning,” Shannan’s mother, Sherre Gilbert, told CBS New York on Tuesday. “It really doesn’t make sense that they are releasing these little bits and pieces of evidence, but none of it, to me, is really, like, helpful.”
Harrison, newly sworn in this year and the fifth commissioner to handle the case, in February launched an interagency task force with investigators from the FBI, state police and other agencies to take a renewed look at the case that’s stumped detectives for more than a decade. The new approach involves speaking with sex trafficking survivors in jail in order to “gain their trust and ultimately get them to tell us who is responsible, in their opinion, for these heinous crimes,” Suffolk County Undersheriff Kevin Catalina said at Tuesday’s press conference.
“Having been in this case as I’ve had for 11 years, I’ve been an adversary against the police because of the failed investigation,” Ray told Fox News Digital by phone Wednesday. “I’ve changed my position because of the new commissioner and his work.”
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Ray has long argued that former Suffolk County Police Commissioner James Burke worked to keep the FBI away from initial investigations more than a decade ago in order to cover up his alleged drug-fueled partying with sex workers in the nearby neighborhood. Ray told Fox News Digital that he’s not convinced Burke was the killer, but the former commissioner should not be exonerated because “unquestionably” he took steps to delay the investigation. Burke has denied those allegations.
In 2016, Burke was sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to beating Christopher Loeb, an admitted heroin addict who broke into his police SUV outside his house and stole a duffel bag containing sex toys, cigars and a pornographic DVD, the New York Times previously reported.
In 2021, Thomas Spota, Suffolk County’s top prosecutor, and his aide Christopher McPartland, were also sentenced in a plot to hide evidence about the beating and protect the embattled former police chief.